World Superbike may have been a Kawasaki and Ducati playground for the last two seasons but one man hoping to change that this year is 2013 series runner-up Eugene Laverty, who returns to WSB after two seasons in Grand Prix.
The Irishman will be reunited with Aprilia’s RSV4, with which he took nine race victories on his way to second in 2013, in the British-run Milwaukee team with full factory support from Noale.
“We expect to be strong because it’s not like I’m hopping on a new bike,” Laverty told MCN. “If you’re on a new bike, challenging for the championship in year one would be difficult but for me it’s like coming home.
“I was with Aprilia for two years and in year two we won a tonne of races and fought for the championship."
Despite a few issues with chatter in testing, Laverty is confident of taking the fight to title favourites Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies as the season gets underway.
“We are the challengers, definitely,” he continued. “We have the potential with this bike to be there, it was there in 2013 and had a strong year with Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri the year after. It’s clearly capable but the reason Kawasaki and Ducati are such a force is the continuity – keeping the same riders year after year.”
One thing Laverty is hoping will play into his hands as the season gets underway at Phillip Island is his form at the Australian track, where he has won races with both Suzuki and Aprilia.
“I know it’ll be hard at the start of the season to be up there with Kawasaki and Ducati as we’re all playing catch up, but the positive thing for me is that the season starts at Phillip Island, one of the strongest tracks for both me and the bike.”
However, Laverty is under no illusion about how hard fighting at the front has become in WSB these days. Rea’s sheer consistency has seen him unbeatable for the last two seasons.
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